The Cross Keys – Woolstone
01908 528 145
Newport Road, Great Woolstone, Milton Keynes, MK15 0AA
MK Select recently visited The Cross Keys pub and restaurant after a refurbishment and expansion earlier this year. The transformation since our last visit has been nothing short of incredible. The Cross Keys’ popularity had already soared under the guidance of Hannah and her partner Zani who took over in early 2016. Head Chef James Bird has very obviously played a key role in this success story too. Last year we mentioned consistency, value for money and a personable and friendly service as reasons to pay them a visit. Now add to that list the truly beautiful surroundings and you’ll soon understand why everyone is visiting The Cross Keys.
The incredible refurbishment
The Cross Keys has lost none of its character since its expansion. The main restaurant has a stylish, classic and modern feel. This is an establishment where you can bring anyone, whether it be a partner, friends or family and be confident that they will leave with smiles on their faces.
The open kitchen is well placed not just to ensure ease of service; it adds to an already bustling atmosphere. The floor to ceiling-length windows add light and create a spacious feel. The new flooring is trendy. The seating cute, and oh so comfortable.
As I surveyed the gorgeous surroundings I noticed families young and old. Couples romancing. A table of friends out catching up over old times. Opposite our table a young man was treating his mother to dinner. Although there was an eclectic group of individuals present, this place has a relaxed, comfortable and family feel about it.
We couldn’t resist the option of some warm Mediterranean breads served with extra virgin olive oil and organic balsamic vinegar as we perused the menu. These were yummy and at no point did we feel rushed as we took our time choosing some traditional classics to some almost surprising options. Surprising? I didn’t expect to see Beef Carpaccio, prime fillet topped with aged parmesan, rocket and truffle oil. My guest beat me to it and chose this to start.
The beef had a lovely fresh, pure meaty flavour and melt in the mouth texture. This dish is often served with parmesan as it was here and this combination works an absolute treat.
Always room for more…
Ham Hock Terrine. ‘Dukeshill’ ham hock terrine served with toasted ciabatta and bacon jam was my choice of starter. Every element of this dish was spot on. At first glance you might feel there is more bacon jam than you would need, but this was so tasty I finished the plate and wished there was more! A generous-sized, tasty terrine was accompanied by some lovely, crunchy bread. Should I have started with those breads and oils too before ordering? Probably not is the answer but when food is this tasty you can always find room for more!
The 10oz Ribeye, seasoned chips, rocket, slow roasted tomato, flat mushroom and hand-battered onion rings was next. You feel it will not be long, if it hasn’t happened already, until The Cross Keys has a reputation for serving outstanding steaks if doesn’t have one yet! This ribeye, ordered medium-rare could not have been prepared any better. This was cooked to perfection and well-seasoned. I was pleased I avoided the temptation of ordering an accompanying sauce. It wasn’t needed. The meat was outstanding, the flavours sublime. And by the way, the chips are pretty amazing too.
My guest doesn’t quite have an appetite to match mine so I was a little worried when their dish of Fish Supper, salmon fillet, king scallop, mussels, tiger prawn and chorizo served with a saffron ailoli, samphire and a baby gem salad with citrus house dressing arrived. This was a large main course and I was convinced they would fail to finish it. I was wrong.
The overriding message from my guest was how “flavoursome” this plate of food was. They adored the salmon which was perfectly cooked, and proved the star of the show. Yes, there was a lot on in this plate, but everything combined superbly well. Furthermore, my only advice to lovers of seafood would be to hurry, as I am pretty sure The Cross Keys have made a mistake and they are not charging enough!
I began to question my guest’s appetite not being the equal of mine. Would they like to share a dessert? No was the answer. “I want my own!” they said. I suppose when you’re enjoying food as much as this it is only natural to want more.
Salted caramel & chocolate praline tart, pistachio ice cream and berry coulis grabbed my attention from the choices available. This is an outstanding dessert. Who doesn’t love salted caramel? This dish is beautifully presented and despite being full, I found it very easy to finish the lot. The brilliant pistachio ice-cream was the perfect side-kick.
My guest’s choice of Blueberry swirl cheesecake, vanilla infused freshly whipped cream and berry coulis was also well received. They smiled as a gorgeous looking cheesecake was placed in front of them. This was a delightful way to end a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Finally, our next job was to check our diaries and see when we could return. Brilliant.